On November 24, The Washington Post published a story citing the anonymous group PropOrNot. The story accused the Russians of building a large propaganda operation that worked to defeat Hillary Clinton and elect “insurgent candidate” Donald Trump. It claimed a large number of alternative news websites are acting as Russian agents, dupes, and useful idiots.
Prior to this, in March 2015, the Voice of America insisted Russia has organized “around-the-clock operation in which an army of trolls disseminated pro-Kremlin and anti-Western talking points on blogs and in the comments sections of news websites in Russia and abroad.”
Voice of America is a propaganda service created by the CIA during the Cold War.
In January, the Institute of Modern Russia and its Interpreter Mag teamed up with the CIA through Voice of America to combat “Kremlin disinformation and propaganda.” The Institute of Modern Russia maintains close relationships with many Russian opposition leaders.
Critics took The Washington Post to task for using PropOrNot as a source. The website and PropOrNot’s Facebook and Twitter accounts give no indication who is behind the effort. Despite this, the Post cited the site to make the argument many alternative websites are “fake news” sites working in tandem with the Russians.
PropOrNot has all the hallmarks of an intelligence operation run by the CIA, FBI, or one of a number of other intelligence agencies.
Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the official narrative pushed by the government and echoed dutifully by the establishment media claimed Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda masterminded the attack from a cave in Afghanistan. This and other elements of the official narrative were criticized, primarily by the alternative media. The government and its propaganda media dismissed the criticism of the official narrative and began characterizing critics as conspiracy theorists.
In early 2008, Cass Sunstein, a Harvard scholar and later the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration, wrote a paper with colleague Adrian Vermeule titled simply “Conspiracy Theories.” Sunstein and Vermeule argue the existence of conspiracy theories “may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law.”
In addition to proposing outright censorship of information the government considers“extremist theories,” Sunstein and his co-author suggest using “cognitive infiltration” of groups and networks.
Instead of a covert operation resembling the FBI’s Operation COINTELPRO using physical infiltration to disrupt and discredit political groups, Sunstein proposed attacking targeted groups in cyberspace.
Sunstein and Vermeule write that “whatever the tactical details, there would seem to be ample reason for government efforts to introduce some cognitive diversity into the groups that generate conspiracy theories.”
In 2011, The Guardian reported the US military was developing software that would allow it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
General and later CIA director David Petraeus suggested using online psychological operations aimed at “countering extremist ideology and propaganda.” The objective of the Pentagon effort was “to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives,” according to the report.
The effort to counter alternative websites is not limited to the United States. In September 2014, writes noted researcher and author Thierry Meyssan, the British government created the 77th Brigade, a unit established to counter foreign propaganda.
“The brigade will be made up of warriors who don’t just carry weapons, but who are also skilled in using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and the dark arts of ‘psyops’—psychological operations,” the BBC reported last January.
The unit works with British intelligence through MI6 and collaborates with the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade of the US Army. “These military units were used to disrupt Western websites trying to establish the truth… on September 11 [and] the war against Syria,” writes Meyssan.
MI6 is also involved in a European effort to undermine Russian and alternative media. In March 2015, the European Council asked High Representative Federica Mogherini to prepare a plan of “strategic communication” to denounce the disinformation campaigns of Russia about Ukraine.
The following month, Mogherini created within the European External Action Service a strategic information unit headed by Giles Portman, a British MI6 agent. It provides anti-Russian propaganda to European news services.
Others have called for an outright ban on what European governments consider “fake news” dispensed by Russia and its supposed operatives and dupes. In February 2015, the think tank of the French Socialist Party called for censorship and the French minister of education organized workshops to warn students about supposed conspiracy theories.
The Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington think tank dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe, also set-up an information warfare unit directed against the Russian Federation.
Its advisory council includes Zbigniew Brzezinski (former national security advisor and virulent Russophobe), Eliot Cohen (Bush era neocon and former adviser to the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice), and Madeleine Albright (Clinton administration secretary of state who said killing 500,000 Iraqi children was “worth it”).
Although PropOrNot strives to remain anonymous, it does reveal connections to Modern Russia and its Interpreter Mag and thus, through Voice of America, its association with the CIA. Interpreter Mag is listed under “Related Projects” on its website.
PropOrNot also collaborates with Polygraph Fact-Check, a purported fact-checking website produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, in other words, the CIA.
Another so-called fact-checking operation is listed, Politifact. It is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute and shares a donor with the Clinton Foundation, the Omidyar Network, created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. He is a major donor of Kiev-based Hromadske TV, “the symbol of the info wars between Moscow and the Western world,” according to Forbes. The effort is also supported by the US State Department, a number of European governments, and NGOs involved in Ukraine prior to and after the US-sponsored coup.
PropOrNot’s connections indicate the website and its effort to take down alternative media is a project initiated by the establishment and likely a psychological operation directed by the CIA either directly or through its circle of private contractors.
The defeat of Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with the effectiveness of Russian propaganda. More accurately, Clinton’s election loss is a direct result of her corruption and deep insider status. The alternative media played an instrumental role in exposing Clinton’s criminality and her penchant for war and mass murder, primarily in Libya and Syria.
The alternative media has done an effective job of exposing the crimes of the elite and its political class and this news coverage did, in fact, have an impact on the election. Alternative media is a serious threat to the ruling elite. It no longer controls the flow of information and its propaganda is now directly challenged on a daily basis.
The Washington Post and the establishment media have latched on to the ludicrous PropOrNot campaign to denounce alternative media as some sort of nefarious Russian plot to undermine the political system in the United States. Despite this, millions of Americans continue to read the alternative news and make their own informed decisions, a trend that has set off alarm bells in the deepest recesses of the establishment.
Reprinted with permission from Boiling Frogs Post.